Friday, March 28, 2014

Facing Storms of Life.

Storms in life are inevitable.

One time in Relief Society, the teacher said that ships who are in storms have a 66% higher percentage of surviving if they hit a huge wave head on, as opposed to avoiding it. 

Life can be scary; scratch that, life is scary. It is the easy thing to run, but what do we learn from running? I have noticed personally that if I run from problems, a new environment doesn't make the problems diminish, I carry them with me. It is easier in life, in the moment, to run from hard things rather than to face them head on however facing hard things can give us the courage, strength, and faith needed for life. I truly believe the Lord puts us in certain situations because we have to grow in that area. If we keep getting placed in the same situations then that should be a huge sign that you are not learning the lesson. 

Smack in the face with a ton of bricks, that is my life. I had dinner with my friend Jessi last night after our shift in the temple. We both shared some really difficult times we have gone through and I told her that when I go through situations, I try and pray to figure out what I am supposed to learn. Sure, I could easily go from point A to point B without any struggles, or I could go from point A to point B, have struggles, and then truly appreciate my final destination. 

How do you possible gather up the strength to face a storm head on, knowing there will be pain, it will be hard, how do you have faith that facing the storms of life will be better than sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the storm to pass, if it ever fully does? The Lord doesn't give us all of the answers to life, he doesn't tell us if every decision we make is the right one, he trusts us enough to make our own decisions, and it is only when we walk forward in faith, that we have a confirmation if what we are doing is right or wrong. He will never lead us astray, he will never let us get hurt, but he will let us make our own decisions and we can't expect him to solve all of our problems or tell us every road to go down, that is not why we are here on this earth. 

I would rather walk forward, hit a dead end and know that was for sure the wrong way to go, than always wonder if I should have gone down a certain path. I don't like challenges, I will be the first to state that, I also don't like growing pains, but I do like the affirmation that my decisions are right and that is something I never receive until after a trial of my faith. Sometimes I would rather the Lord handed me the direction I should choose, narrowed my choices down rather than having so much confidence in me as his heavenly daughter, to make the right decisions in life.

Walk forward. If it is the wrong path, you will know. But standing still in a stagnant state does nothing for yourself, and will never solve your problems.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Five Year Plan.

While in Copenhagen, a young man I met in the Generator hostel turned to me and asked, "What is your five year plan?"

I contemplated a moment to think. What was my five year plan? I had no answer. I had not one inclination in my mind as to where I would be or could be in five years. Five years ago if I would have told you where I expected to be now, it would have never been where I actually am. I struggle to believe that we can in fact make a five year plan and hold true to it completely. Things happen in life that continually change our circumstances, priorities, and values. What matters most to me now may not matter to me at all in five years. I suppose if I could predict the future, have it the way that I want, this is what I would see in five years time:

Professionally: Have photos in print, magazines, have a successful name for myself as a travel and landscape photographer. While at my home base, which is yet to be determined however I don't feel it is Los Angeles, I will take family, event, and wedding photos.

Possible locations: Washington, DC. If I get the job for Nat Geo, or perhaps just move to DC because it would be a better place to live and prettier than LA. Get a job being a travel photographer somewhere out of the country, because we all know I wish I was European.

Personally: Have a husband and at least one child. Have the ability to take care of my family and children and maintain my professional business.

... and if I don't have a husband and child I will just be the best aunt in existence.

I honestly don't know what my five year plan is and I think that isn't a bad thing. I am not leaving myself open for failure because I have this specific plan and if things don't work the way I have them in my head, I will be disappointed. There is enough disappointments in life without me adding to them with unmet expectations. Of course I have desires, of course I have direction, but I don't have anything set in stone, other than a desire to be a better person than I was the day before- both professional and personally.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I will start off by saying that Russia was hard; rather, the most difficult country I have ever visited. There were moments of tears, moments of loneliness and confusion, and most of all, moments that I questioned why I felt so impressed to go to Russia, Voronezh in particular.

While in Moscow I had somewhat of an epiphany as I showed photos of Аnna to Illya, his great grandmother and the woman I refer to as Babooshka. Illya had never met Anna, never even seen a photo of her until I had showed him the one of the two of us. Timofey hadn't been home to see any of his family in 17 years. I knew at that moment that I was the bridge for their family, but it wasn't until tonight that I really understood what that meant. 

At 8:00 I knocked on my neighbors door, Irena answered, all three of the ladies, including Babooshka were sitting at the table. I walked in and handed them the matryoshka from Voronezh, telling them it was from the small town she was from. I proceeded to show them photos on my iPad of Анна, Voronezh, and Moscow. 

Irena looked at me in awe, "I can't believe you went there. I can't believe you're safe and are home. I felt so guilty when I told you where she was from and then you decided to go. My son yelled at me and told me it was my fault you were going to the middle of nowhere. I figured when I told you to go to Russia you would go with a tour group, not on your own. We prayed for your safety, you are brave. You are just like a Russian, strong, and you are now ready for Siberia." 

She was astounded that I had found this small town of Анна, no one in their family had ever been there. Babooshka was born on June 21, 1916 (something that they actually have to assume because birth dates were not exact, they only knew she was born in peak harvest season). She lived in Анна until the age of 17 and then moved to Voronezh and on to Uzbekistan. 

"We figured you would go to Moscow or St. Petersburg, or maybe even Uzbekistan, but why Voronezh? She only lived there for a little over a decade?"

I told her Russia was hard. It was a difficult and trying experience and when I got to Анна I questioned why I was there, why I had even come to Russia. Irena said, "I knew you would get there and ask yourself that, we sent you to the end of the world, the middle of nowhere. It is desolate and dirty." I told her it wasn't until I showed photos to Illya that it all made sense, that I could be the middle man for this family.

"You are the family alliance, you are a hero, you are heroic for our family."

She continued in awe, awe that I had found this small town and photographed it for them. I told them I photographed a war monument there, asking if anyone in their family had died in the war. Irena pulled out a photo and said that Babooshka's husband died in 1944, Anna was 24 when he died and had two young children to raise on her own. It was sad but the harsh reality of Russia at the time. Shortly after his death, Anna took the children and moved to Uzbekistan.  Irena translated everything for Babooshka, lifting her scarf and raising her voice in her ear. As the photos of Illya and Timofey came across the screen, tears of happiness and a raised pitch came out of their mouths, "Timofey, Timofey."

I told them I would go through all of the photos, make a photo album for them and give it to them in the next few weeks. Once again speechless, all she could say was, "you're a hero." I went to leave the house and Anna got up walking to the door to give me a hug and kiss. "You are always welcome in this house, you don't need to bring photos, just come, please come, you're our hero."I held back tears, perhaps because it has been a rough 24 hours for me in general, and also because it was emotional to see the impact just a few photos had for this family. I had stepped foot on soil that their grandmother was from, a place they had never been but only heard of. I had, in their eyes, risked my life to do this for their family. A young girl, by herself, took her camera to a foreign country, where no one spoke English, and went to the ends of the earth just to bring back these images for their family. 

This is what makes my job worth while, this is what washes away all the hard times I went through within that long week, this is what gives emotion and feeling behind the photographs I took, and this is what will live on in that family for generations to come. 

"I will write this all down, everything you have done, for Anna. She may not be able to hear everything we talked about but she can read, and this is history, you've made history for our family."

Everything will be alright in the end and if it's not alright, it's not the end.

I returned home from my trip yesterday and was a mess. Home to face a stack of bills and reality. There are reasons I went to every country I visited and part of me still questions why I ventured to certain parts of the world, but with an empty suitcase, lots of emotions to sort through, and a box of pizza I began to process life. I wouldn't say much was accomplished last night, outside of diminishing a pizza, but as I went to church this morning my friend Rob gave me a lot of good advice.

I often wonder why I am a member of this church, what my purpose is, why I am a photographer... the laundry list of questions goes on and on. Personally, it is hard to have so many questions without any answers. It is hard to digest that sometimes in life, you simply don't know why things happen and you never will. I had a breaking point last night where I just wanted an end to all of the crap, the pain. I understand why we go through trials, but in the midst of them, the last thing I want to do is understand.

On my recent trip out of the country I sought closure for some things in my life. Sometimes, even though we are seeking closure, when we receive it, it can still be hard to accept. Today when I talked to Rob, he gave me really sound advice, opened my eyes to perhaps things I already knew but needed to hear from an outside person. Sometimes we hold on to things in life because we want them so badly to work, we convince ourselves that we won't have another opportunity for happiness, and in the process settle for anything, even if it is painful. There is only so much that you can do in your own human power, you can't change a situation or people, you can only control yourself and your thoughts and your actions.

This year has been about rebuilding from the ground up, which is never easy. Every time that I think I am headed in the right direction, I feel as though a wave comes crashing down and I have to start all over again. I suppose I keep setting the reset button so I can get things right, I just wish I could catch on so I wouldn't have to keep starting over. I watched a movie on the plane ride home, it was amazing: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. There was a line in the movie, "Everything will be alright in the end and if it's not alright, it's not the end."

It's not the end, in fact, things are so chaotic that is must mean it is just be beginning and I am going to have one heck of a story!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Say Something.

This song means more in my life than words could articulate.

My world... my thoughts

I can't apologize if you don't like what you read I can only apologize that you stumbled on my page.